The unmodified (Apo) form of Escherichia coli acyl carrier protein is a potent inhibitor of cell growth

D. H. Keating, M. R. Carey, J. E. Cronan

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Acyl carrier protein (ACP) is the carrier of fatty acids during their synthesis and utilization. ACPs (or ACP-like protein domains) have been found throughout biology and share significant amino acid sequence similarities. All ACPs undergo a post-translational modification in which 4'- phosphopantetheine is transferred from CoA to a specific serine of apo-ACP. This modification is essential for activity because fatty acids are bound in thioester linkage to the sulfhydryl of the prosthetic group. Overproduction of Escherichia coli ACP from multicopy plasmids strongly inhibits growth of E. coli. We report that upon overexpression of ACP in E. coli post- translational modification is inefficient and the apo protein accumulates and blocks cell growth by inhibition of lipid metabolism. Moreover, a mutant form of ACP that is unable to undergo post-translational modification is a potent inhibitor of growth. Finally, we observed that an increase in the efficiency of modification of overexpressed ACP results in decreased toxicity. The accumulated apo-ACP acts as a potent in vitro inhibitor of the sn-glycerol- 3-phosphate acyltransferase resulting in an inability to transfer the completed fatty acid to sn-glycerol 3-phosphate. The degree of inhibition depended upon the species of donor acyl chain. Utilization of cis-vaccenoyl- ACP by the sn-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase was inhibited to a much greater extent by apo-ACP than was utilization of palmitoyl-ACP. 1-Acyl glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase was also inhibited in vitro by apo-ACP, although not at physiologically relevant concentrations. These in vitro data are supported by in vivo labeling data, which showed a large decrease in cis- vaccenate incorporation into phospholipid during overproduction of ACP, but no decrease in the rate of synthesis of long chain acyl-ACPs. These data indicate that acylation of sn-glycerol 3-phosphate is the major site of inhibition by apo-ACP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22229-22235
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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